Greetings Nightjar Monitors!
Today, March 28, marks the start of the Nightjar Survey Network’s 16th year of citizen science-powered nightjar monitoring. Volunteers in Florida, Texas, and low elevation regions of Arizona and New Mexico can officially kick off the 2023 field season come midnight.
There is much to be excited about as we head into this next year of effort on behalf of North America’s resident nightjars. As we shared at the onset of last year’s monitoring season, the network has entered into a transitional period, the outcome of which will result in expanded efforts in the United States and increased collaboration with nightjar enthusiasts and conservationists around the globe.
Over the last year, our project staff assisted with the launch of the Global Nightjar Network, an international partnership of researchers, citizen scientists, artists, and enthusiasts united around the common cause of promoting the study and conservation of nightjars across the planet. We are helping to support this global nightjar research and conservation initiative by serving on the group’s steering committee. This group is currently exploring pathways towards supporting critical monitoring efforts like our own throughout the world.
The amount of volunteer effort expended and the resulting wealth of knowledge generated by this project over the last 15 years has been astounding. We are excited to bring the results of your determined efforts to bear by initiating partnerships to facilitate further nightjar research and conservation action. Over the last year, we made critical connections with researchers, organizations, and wildlife agencies eager to move forward with these efforts here in North America. We are also working towards sharing our results over the Avian Knowledge Network to ensure that the data is free and publicly accessible for individuals interested in utilizing our results for the purposes of ecological research and wildlife management.
The cryptic appearance and elusive nature of nightjars has resulted in their being under-studied for decades. This is changing, and in no small part, thanks to our project volunteers. The conditions necessary to gather the insights we need to assess the status of these birds require careful planning and determination on the part of each volunteer, conducting surveys late into the night when the conditions are most suitable. As we work to advance this project, developing resources to support our volunteers and increase public awareness of nightjars is a central priority. One upcoming improvement to look forward to in the coming year will include a new project website with a suite of volunteer resources and education materials related to nightjars.
Whether a seasoned nightjar monitor or a new volunteer, thank you for your commitment to the Nightjar Survey Network. Have fun this season and stay safe. We’re looking forward to another successful field season and can’t wait to see what discoveries you make!
Nightjar Survey Network Coordinator Maine Natural History Observatory